Innovative and Sophisticated Short-Term Residential Treatment for Teen Boys

Embark at The Forge is an innovative, teen boys short-term residential treatment program (45 to 90 days) and school developed in response to the emotional and neurobiological needs of teen boys. At The Forge School, we combine the immersion of extraordinary outdoor experiences, daily functional fitness, empathetic and attuned individual and family counseling, and exceptional educational rigor to help build greatness. The program focuses on stabilization and assessment to give families a clear understanding of the road ahead.


If you are looking for a short-term residential program for teen girls, visit Embark at Hobble Creek or Embark at the Poconos

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An Adventure Rich Location that is Ideal for Teen Boy Healing and Growth

Residential care helps facilitate healing in a safe and controlled environment. The Forge School works with families and within family systems. We understand that individuals and families heal best in-home environments filled with a sense of safety, nurturing, comfort, and well-being.

The vast property at The Forge School is located in the Mountains of Benton, Tennessee – located only 45 minutes outside of Chattanooga; and surrounded by the East Tennessee Mountains on 55 acres with direct access to the Hiwassee River. With the world-class Ocoee only a short distance away there are many opportunities for water and outdoor sporting activities for your son, all under the direct supervision of our coaches.

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We Are Experts in How to Motivate, Fascinate, and Co-Regulate the Teen Male Brain

At the Forge, we are not only preparing our students for the road ahead cognitively, physically, and emotionally, but also taking into consideration their overall sense of being. Relaxation skills for decompression are essential for teens to self-regulate. This holistic educational experience with tactile and engaging life skills will help facilitate a deeper understanding of each student’s core sense of self and initiate positive behavioral change. Our goal is to inspire a new confidence and way of being through a shift in the lens of how our students learn. We illuminate a better way to educate young men and forge the path for mighty leadership to be formed.

Embark at the Forge offers sophisticated mental health treatment and care:

  • Insurance funded
  • Full-time Child & Adolescent Psychiatry on-site with over 22 years of experience
  • Tailored evidenced-based interventions and therapies
  • Holistic nutrition education; chef-prepared cuisine
  • 5 hours of group therapy weekly
  • Individualized 2 hr individual and family therapy weekly
  • Personalized academic assessment and credit recovery
  • Daily functional fitness
  • Adventure therapy activities weekly
  • Focus on stabilization and assessment
  • Psychiatric medication review
  • Psychological/educational evaluation
  • Family systems assessment

Start your healing journey

Call or fill out the contact form below.

Phone: 866-727-3870

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Embark at The Forge

5842 TN-30

Benton, TN 37307

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Why choose Short Term Residential Treatment at The Forge School?

It has become clear that teen boys cannot thrive in today’s environment that is dominated by technology, neurotoxic food, and an often sedentary lifestyle. Single-gender treatment is important. With that in mind, there are no teen girl students on our campus. The program is fully focused on serving the unique needs of teen boys. Ensuring the short-term safety of your son, while gaining traction for his long-term health, is the goal of our program.

Our program uses the healing power of the outdoors to create room for your son to reconnect with his body and emotions, while fueling him with nutrition that reduces inflammation and helps his brain integrate the therapeutic work he will do. Daily functional fitness and adventure therapy engage the hands-on, tactile nature of your son so that he internalizes training which builds confidence and self-esteem. In-depth clinical assessment helps us create an environment for your son and family to stabilize, reset, and confidently move forward on his treatment journey with a clear understanding of the strengths and challenges at play.

We work with teen boys, between the ages of 14 and 17, that are struggling with anxiety, depression, social challenges, and learning differences. The range of stay for short-term residential is 45 to 90 days.

Call us any time, we would love to be of service.

Daily Schedule Highlights

The Forge School is a highly specialized residential treatment center specifically designed to meet the neurobiological needs of teen boys between the ages of 13-17.  Here, we work with families and within family systems. We understand that individuals and families heal best in home environments filled with a sense of safety, nurturing, comfort, and well-being. We designed The Forge because you matter, because you have inherent worth and value, and so that your engagement in the world is noticed and affirmed. As you engage in the world, as you engage in the process of healing, there will be times when you will fall apart. Because you matter, we will pull you through those difficult times; you will not be alone.

7am - 9am
Breakfast & Goals

9:00am - 3:15pm


Adventure Therapy

Dinner & Cleaning

5:30pm - 7:00pm
Team Building

8pm - 9pm
Evening Routine

Meet The Team

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Joe Barnard

Position: Executive Director
Joe Barnard joined the Embark Behavioral Health family as Executive Director of The Forge School in July 2020. Following a long and successful career of 33 years in the Department of Defense as an elite rescueman in the US Air Force, Joe wanted to find another way to serve his community. This is what brought him to The Forge School. Joe believes in the school’s vision for teen boys of equal clinical, academics and adventure/experiential modalities. He brings decades of day-in dayout interaction with young Airmen and other SOF operators. He has seen that team, is so much better than self, and he looks forward to building and leading his team, collectively serving their parents and students. Joe is also an avid skydiver, surfer, and novice yoga practitioner. Following his Air Force retirement, he and his wife of 29 years Meghan, a Yoga/Mindfulness Instructor, traveled Southeast Asia for 5 months (Thailand, Singapore and Bali) decompressing, exploring and learning. Joe brings an artful and intentional mix of the structure and grit of his military background, love and passion for adventure, and his grounded and centered energy to work with our young men to develop the skills to initiate positive behavioral change and become resilient leaders and visionaries. contact: [email protected]
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Joe Barnard

Executive Director
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Josh Nordean

Position: Clinical Director
Josh Nordean joins The Forge School as the Clinical Director after serving at Calo since 2016 as a therapist, Program Director and Director of Clinical Services. Since 2001, Josh has worked with young men and their families in a variety of settings as a teacher, coach, youth pastor, case manager, crisis intervention specialist and therapist. Josh graduated summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with an M.S. in Community Counseling. Josh has a heart for providing a CASA experience for young men and their families and serving as a mentor on the road towards healthy manhood. Through his years of experience working with boys from a variety of socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds, Josh has come to believe that boys need specific mentors and role models to show them how to harness and focus their strength into productive rather than destructive ventures. He is excited to be a part of the team at the Forge School who aim to set a new standard in boy specific treatment. When not working, Josh enjoys anything related to sports and being outdoors and loves spending time with his wife, three sons and two boxers. contact: [email protected]
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Josh Nordean

Clinical Director
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Dr. Michael Gurian

Position: Marriage and Family Counselor

Dr. Michael Gurian is a marriage and family counselor in private practice and the New York Times bestselling author of thirty two published books in twenty three languages. He has penned gender specific best sellers like, The Wonder of Boys, The Minds of Boys and Saving Our Sons. As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, schools, corporations, and public policy. The Gurian Institute which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs, and trains professionals. Dr. Gurian’s speaking engagements include but are not limited to, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA.

Michael’s work has also been featured in nearly all the major media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Psychology Today, the Christian Science Monitor, Educational Leadership and the American School Board Journal. The Forge School is incredibly pleased to have Dr. Gurian on the team and as our consultant, and he brings a wealth of experience to us with his life’s work.
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Dr. Michael Gurian

Marriage and Family Counselor
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Meghan Barnard

Position: Director of Admissions
Meghan Barnard has always been passionate about helping others live their best and healthiest life, mind, body and spirit. At her foundation, she is an educator and an intuitive helper of hearts. As an experienced and well traveled retreat leader and effective motivator, Meghan has had the unique opportunity to help affect many lives and produce positive experiences and outcomes, for her clients. This sense of giving back has sustained her since she was a young girl. Skilled and trained in a variety of teaching and healing modalities, trauma informed yoga, meditation, public speaking, media, leadership, sales and marketing as well as brand development and event planning. Currently as the Director of Admissions for the Forge School, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to deepen this sense of giving back using her life learned skillset for what matters the most, family. As the first point of contact for The Forge School she is motivated to spread awareness and help facilitate, with the team, the guidance and direction needed to create joy and heal generations. Meghan and her husband Joe are proud parents who have raised two grown sons, Connor and Zachary. She is an age optimist and a clean food enthusiast. A collaborator and connector. Cheerleader of women, and a man fan. Contact: [email protected]
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Meghan Barnard

Director of Admissions
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Shirleen Lombard

Position: Educational Leader

Raised on a beautiful Caribbean island, Shirleen Lombard fell in love with the picturesque city of Cleveland after completing her Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Lee University. She is committed to educating students, colleagues, families, and the community through establishing strong connections. Her passion to help students overcome barriers that impact their learning, led her to pursue her second Master’s Degree in Teaching with a Special Education emphasis. She has taught in various classroom settings including co-teaching in a special education inclusion classroom as well as co-teaching with English Language Learning teachers. She has dedicated herself to becoming a life-long educator and learner, and she strives to instill a similar desire in all the students with whom she works. As an educational leader and advocate, Shirleen is committed to helping students and their families with life skills that are both practical and beneficial at The Forge School. In her free time, you can usually find Shirleen and her family exploring State Parks, enjoying the rolling mountains and waterfalls of Tennessee, meeting up with friends at local coffee shops or attending local events in her community. Contact: [email protected]
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Shirleen Lombard

Educational Leader
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Jeff Wagner

Position: Residential Director
Jeff Wagner thrives in any environment leading, training, and mentoring young men possessing nearly four decades of experience in both military settings and residential treatment center environments, with an emphasis on trauma informed care. Serving in the military for 22 years of combined service; many of those years focused leading Adventure Based Training and in charge of instruction at the entry level spanning three decades. One very rewarding and successful assignment was having the opportunity to work at a Military Hospital providing guidance to transitioning Veterans. These individuals, leadership had indicated concern about their ability to transition back to their communities after their honorable service to their nation. They became productive members of society. Jeff has also served in youth ministries, coached little league, high school wrestling, as well as teaching hunter’s safety. He is committed to being a lifelong student of human nature with a growth mindset focused on helping others through their difficulties and transitions. Jeff is excited to be working at The Forge School as the Residential Director, where he will continue his passion for mentoring and guiding his students towards the path of healthy adulthood, using the CASA model as his clinical guide. Contact: [email protected]
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Jeff Wagner

Residential Director
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Dr. Cassandra Simms

Position: Clinical Psychiatrist
Dr. Cassandra Simms is board certified in Adult and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Simms received her medical degree from the University of Kentucky in 1999. She completed her Psychiatry Residency and Child/Adolescent Fellowship at the University of South Carolina. During her residency, she served on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Residency Selection Committee, and was chosen to be Chief Resident for the Child & Adolescent Fellowship Program. In May 2004, Dr. Simms moved to Chattanooga Tennessee with her family where she started her professional career with Focus Psychiatric Services, Inc. and Parkridge Valley Hospital treating children and adolescents in an outpatient and inpatient setting until August 2012. In August 2012, Dr. Simms took a position with Community Health Systems via Skyridge Medical Center now known as Tennova Healthcare in Cleveland Tennessee. She provided outpatient care to adults and children at Behavioral Health of Cleveland and inpatient care to adults at Pineridge Treatment Center (Tennova Behavioral Health) via acute hospitalization, inpatient consultation and intensive outpatient programs until August 2015. It was in August 2015, Dr. Simms transitioned to her outpatient private practice as a co-owner of Comprehensive Psychiatric Care, PLLC in Chattanooga Tennessee. She has been joined by several therapists and a Nurse Practitioner to provide services to our beloved community. Dr. Simms collaborates with Healthconnect of America to provide supervision to nurse practitioners in the surrounding area and with Allied Behavioral Services, Inc. to provide consistent medication management services to their clients. In November 2020 while continuing her outpatient services, Dr. Simms was thrilled to join the Embark Behavioral Health’s newest program, The Forge School, a behavioral residential treatment center for boys in Benton Tennessee. She will serve as the Psychiatric Service Director to oversee and provide the psychiatric care to the residents referred to the facility. During her 17 years as a provider, Dr. Simms has also found a passion for teaching students through her clinical experiences. In 2009, Dr. Simms became a faculty member with the University of Tennessee School of Medicine where she briefly served as preceptor for medical students for a portion of their psychiatry rotation. In 2012, Dr. Simms contracted with Lincoln Memorial University’s Physician Assistant program providing their behavioral health clinical experience. Dr. Simms hopes through her current clinical experiences that she can continue to educate upcoming providers and provide them with a thorough clinical psychiatric experience. This is with the hope to make upcoming providers aware of the need for good psychiatric care in our communities and to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.
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Dr. Cassandra Simms

Clinical Psychiatrist